I adored Soulless, but have just now gotten around to picking up book 2 in the Parasol Protectorate series, Changeless. Why now?
Partly because of the whole finishing-a-draft thing, and partly because I wanted to get at least ONE of the books in non-Kindle form. Why, you ask?
Well, Ms. Carriger will be in Tulsa in October for the Nimrod Literary Conference, which means I get a chance to quietly fangirl in person.
Or, you know, just ask her nicely to sign my book. And then talk about tea. And parasols.
In Changeless, Alexia Tarabotti is now Lady Alexia Maccon, wife to Lord Conall Maccon and the Alpha female of the Woolsey werewolf pack. However, life is not all moonshine and roses for our intrepid heroine.
Something is triggering a plague of mass humanization, making vampires and werewolves temporarily mortal, which causes the supernatural population of London no end of consternation. Then, as if that weren’t enough, Conall vanishes northward to Scotland on noticeably vague “family business.”
Saddled with her best friend, Ivy, and her annoying sister, Felicity, and armed with tea and her trusty parasol, Alexia takes off to investigate the plague of humanization and track down her wayward husband.
As before, the tone of this book is phenomenal. There’s not a wasted word on the page, and Carriger has a way of twisting phrases just so to tickle your funny bone. (Or at least tickle mine.) More than once, my roommates asked, “What’s so funny?” because I started laughing out loud. Often, in public. Much as I enjoy the stories themselves, Carriger’s writing style is a big part of what makes them so delightful.
Lady Maccon sipped a freshly brewed cup in profound relief. All in all, it had been quite the trying evening thus far. With Ivy and hats in her future, it was only likely to get worse. Tea was a medicinal necessity at this juncture.
Tea is a medicinal necessity at any juncture, frankly.
Alexia continues to be a very fun character: strong, witty, capable, and a believer in a good cup of tea and a proper meal. She’s always ready with her trusty parasol and an arsenal of put-downs. She and Lord Maccon are just as fun in this book as they were previously, perhaps even more so now that they’re married.
Ivy is sometimes eyerolling, sometimes hilarious, but the whole “forbidden love” between her and Tunstell is sidesplitting. Also, Ivy gets (quite accidentally) drunk. On a flying dirigible. It goes about as well as you’d expect.
I did miss Lord Akeldama (he’s here, though not as much as he was in book one). He’s still outrageous, still calling Alexia things like “buttercup,” and still speaking primarily in italics. The precious few scenes with him – especially him, Biffy, and Professor Lyall (Lord Maccon’s Beta) – are just great.
But, we have some new characters in this one, most particularly Madame Lefoux, a talented milliner/inventor who also (gasp!) dresses like a man. She’s a particularly fun addition to the cast, and makes a good foil for Alexia when Conall is not around.
Changeless also fleshes out the world a bit more. We learn more about the history of the werewolves, a little more about the vampires, and (most importantly) the history of Lord Maccon himself. I like the deeper dip into world’s mythology and how the society is set up.
Warning: you probably shouldn’t read this book unless you’ve already got book 3, Blameless, somewhere in easy grabbing distance. The cliffhanger at the end was one that had me going, “Wait, what? What? WHAT?” (Yes, I was doing my very best Tenth Doctor impersonation there.) (And yes, I’ve now got Blameless on my Kindle.)
And really, that ending scene was the only time I felt jarred. I laughed aloud at one line, only to realize two sentences later we had entered “serious business” territory. That was where part of the “wait, what?” reaction came from.
Obviously, Changeless was not only good enough for me to finish in 24 hours, but also good enough for me to buy book three the same week. I really hope the next three books are as good as the first two, because I am enjoying this series immensely.